Probate, Wills, And Beneficiaries: What You Need To Know

When a person dies, they will likely leave behind an estate. An estate is any money, property, valuables, and anything else they owned while they were alive. The estate must be handled legally upon their passing. This includes settling any debts, distributing assets to beneficiaries, and essentially closing this chapter in the person's life. Making all of these important decisions is not easy and can require going through the probate process. Probate is a legal term for a process that settles a will once someone dies. The court will help determine how the assets are dispersed based on what the deceased wanted. However, there may be some cases where there is not a will or the deceased listed no beneficiaries. Here are some things you need to know if this happens:

No Beneficiaries

If a person creates a will and does not provide a list of beneficiaries, the estate has to be settled through court. The point of a will is to make sure the estate left behind is dispersed in the way the deceased wanted. Traditionally, a will lists beneficiaries of any assets left behind after all debts have been settled. If there is no beneficiary on the will, a decision has to be made. There are several reasons why there may be no beneficiaries in a will. Sometimes it is an issue of an outdated will that was not updated before death. Other times a person simply did not want to name anyone, or the listed beneficiaries also passed away. In the case of no beneficiaries, the court will ultimately decide what happens to the remainder of the estate.

No Will

If someone passes away and does not have a will, the estate's disposition will be based on the laws of the state they lived in when they died. In a community property state, any assets obtained during a marriage will automatically go to the spouse of the deceased. If there is a property that was obtained prior to marriage, the spouse will receive it. If there are children or next of kin, they are in line to receive the estate if there is no spouse. If the deceased has no relatives and absolutely no one to leave their estate to, the state will receive the estate.

Probate can be an exhaustive process, but it is worth going through to ensure the estate is properly settled and handled according to the wishes of the deceased. Reach out to a probate lawyer to find out more.